As we saw last time, the consequences of fear go largely undetected in most people's lives. It takes some effort to recognize and own up to the impact of fear in our daily activities. Fear-based thinking and acting is the most common cause for people not fulfilling their greatest potential in life. As Les Brown is quoted as saying, "Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears."
Once we become aware of the fear, what are some ways to overcome the fear? Turning once again to psychologist Susan Jeffers in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, she shares a number of practical solutions to fighting fear. Becoming a fear fighter has much to do with becoming a generous giver. According to Jeffers, although most people would consider themselves to be a giving person, in reality very few people are truly a giving person. "Why do we find it so difficult to give? My theory has two components. First, it requires a mature adult to give, and most of us have never really grown up. Second, giving is an acquired skill that few of us have mastered. These components are tied together and require a great deal of practice to achieve. The reason most of us have never practiced these skills is simple— it usually never occurs to us that we aren't behaving like adults or that we aren't giving. We have unwittingly deceived ourselves. And this is understandable. We look like we are adults and we seem to be giving people. What's going on underneath, however, belies appearances."
The idea of giving commonly includes some kind of getting in return. How much we give and to whom is generally based on a value system of investment with worthfulness being judged by how much comes back to us. Most of our giving is from a place of expectation rather than a place of love.
This "childish" view of giving is based on the fear of lack. Our basic needs from birth are met at the mercy of our caretakers. Our earliest fears revolve around not enough water (thirst), not enough food (hunger(, not enough heat (cold), etc. Survival is tied up in the world nurturing us. "As the years pass, we function as more and more independent beings, able to take care of ourselves—or so it appears. We dress ourselves, we feed ourselves, we earn a living. Yet there seems to be a part of us that never progresses much beyond the crib. Metaphorically, we remain frightened that no one will come to relieve our hunger-—for food, money, love, praise, and so on. Any relief in the way of "food" is only temporary; we know the hunger will come again. Consider what this dilemma sets up for us in the area of our daily living. We can't give. We can't love. We become, consciously or unconsciously, manipulative, because our perceived survival is involved. We can't support the well-being of another person if their needs in any way conflict with ours. And how do we feel operating from the level of the playpen? Helpless, trapped, angry, frustrated, dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and, most of all, fearful.
What can be more frightening than depending on someone else for one's survival? As fearful adults, we ask the same questions we did as a child. Will they go away and not come back? Will they stop loving me? Will they take care of me? Will they get sick and die? As adults, we ask these questions about our spouse, and often about our friends, boss, parents, and even children.
People who fear can't genuinely give. They are imbued with a deep-seated sense of scarcity in the world, as if there wasn't enough to go around. Not enough love, not enough money, not enough praise, not enough attention—simply not enough. Usually fear in one area of our lives generalizes, and we become closed down and protective in many areas of our lives. Fearful people can be visualized as crouched and hugging themselves. Whereas this image represents the inner state of all frightened people, the outer manifestation can take on many forms. Examples include: Successful businessmen needing the boss's approval Housewives who blame their husbands or children for the fact that they never lived their own lives.
Independent career women who demand so much from their men that they are often alone
Men who can't tolerate their wives' independence. Company executives who make harmful, irresponsible decisions. They are all in some way operating out of a sense of fear for their own survival. They all are, in effect, crouched and withholding inside.
In order to get rid of the fear of lack, you must be willing to change the way you think and act. Instead of holding on to people and things for dear life, you have to start releasing, letting go, giving it away. It's easy to give when you feel abundantly endowed, but you only feel that way when you give, not before! This kind of change is a life-long process that you can begin working on today I can speak from experience and say that the peace of mind is worth every bit of effort you put into it.
Jeffers discusses six specific ways to give. I want to focus on the last of these: giving away thanks, giving away information, giving away praise, giving away time, giving away money, and giving away love. You must give away what you want to attract. If you want the best, give away your best. If you want people to treat you with respect, be respectful and give away respect. If you want people to trust you, be trustworthy and give away trust. If you want others to love you, be confident in your worthfulness, and give away the love. Giving is about outflow. It is about letting go of your crouched, withholding self and standing tall with outstretched arms. Giving from the position that "I count" enhances your ability to give. When we really feel this sense of abundance, we truly understand the saying "My cup runneth over." Like any other skill, however, it takes practice.
The Bible has a lot to say about love. For a clear definition of love, read chapter 10 of the book of 1 Corinthians. Also, the Bible gives a direct answer to the question, "How do you get rid of fear?" It says, "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). In fact, the verse before this one says that God is love. Perfect love is completely selfless and unconditional. Only God is "perfect" in this kind of love, but we can love much better when we allow him to change our heart to love more deeply. In fact, Jesus himself encouraged us in love. In the 14th chapter of the gospel of John Jesus starts by saying "do not let your hearts be troubled ..." He goes on to explain Father's Love for mankind, and invites us in to divinely empowered peace and love. God understands that our ability to love is limited. That's why he offers us his limitless supply. All we have to do is receive HIS love and we can give HIS love away, not just our own.
Does your mind still contain a frightful thought? No worries. Peace of mind, created by love, leaves no more room for fear. As Jeffers book suggests, "feel the fear and do it anyway!"
Note: The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness. This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith) to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at http://bluerockbnb.com
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry